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Ernesto skirting Mexico's coast

Aug 9th, 2012 - International News

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Ernesto has skirted along Mexico's far-southern Gulf coast early today, while building again toward hurricane strength.

The storm moved out over open water late Wednesday after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula without doing serious damage. It's expected to stay close to shore while heading westward, raising the threat of heavy rains for coastal communities.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm's sustained winds increased to about 70 mph after moving over water, it's expected to gain more strength, probably growing into a hurricane again.

It was a hurricane when it made landfall in Yucatan just before midnight Tuesday but weakened over land.

Mexico's Interior Department says Ernesto is expected to come ashore in the Gulf of Mexico state of Veracruz.

The hurricane center says that should happen by late this afternoon or early evening.

U.S. forecasters are updating their outlook for the six-month Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases its initial seasonal outlook each May. The outlook gets updated in early August as the peak period for storms begins.

This year, NOAA forecasters predicted the season would produce a normal number of about nine to 15 tropical storms, with as many as four to eight storms strengthening into hurricanes. NOAA will update that outlook Thursday.

So far this year there have been four tropical storms and two hurricanes.

One of those hurricanes — Ernesto — made landfall late Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane on Mexico's Caribbean coast near its border with Belize.

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